Viewing cable 06BUCHAREST1385
Title: ROMANIA: CODEL LANTOS DISCUSSIONS WITH ROMANIAN

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06BUCHAREST13852006-09-05 15:59:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bucharest
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DE RUEHBM #1385/01 2481559
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 051559Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
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INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0083
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 0040
RUEHUP/AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST 1106
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0025
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 001385 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NCE AND H 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/04/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV OREP HU LE AF IZ IS RO
SUBJECT: ROMANIA: CODEL LANTOS DISCUSSIONS WITH ROMANIAN 
PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER, AND FOREIGN MINISTER 
 
 
Classified By: DCM Mark A. Taplin for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
 
¶1.   (C) Summary: In separate meetings with the Romanian 
President, Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister August 31, 
Congressman Tom Lantos (D-California) expressed appreciation 
for Romania's military contributions in Afghanistan, Iraq, 
and the Balkans.  He briefed on his recent visit to Lebanon, 
and thanked Romanian leaders for taking steps in changing the 
country's approach to Holocaust education.  He underscored 
continuing concerns about the influence of hate groups and 
extremist right-wing parties in Romania and elsewhere in 
Central and Eastern Europe.  The Congressman also urged the 
Prime Minister to resolve pending issues including the 
acceptance of Nazi deportees from the United States. 
President Basescu explained his reasoning behind Romania's 
recent decision not to contribute troops to UNIFIL, saying he 
did not want to involve Romanian soldiers in Lebanon given 
the vague UNSCR mandate and ROE.  He added, however, that he 
was open to reconsidering this decision if "expressly 
requested" by the international community.   Prime Minister 
Tariceanu echoed the President, arguing that even with 
15-30,000 troops in Lebanon, UNIFIL was unlikely to succeed 
absent tougher ROE and--more importantly--an overall 
political settlement including the concurrence of Hezbollah's 
"protectors" (Iran and Syria).  Tariceanu did not respond 
directly to the Congressman's request to facilitate the 
acceptance of Nazi deportees.  However, he commented that 
while his main task had been on assuring Romania's EU entry, 
he was now hoping to increasingly turn his attention to 
US-Romanian bilateral issues.   End Summary 
 
¶2.  (C) Rep. Lantos prefaced his meeting with President 
Traian Basescu by expressing appreciation for Romania's 
military presence in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Western 
Balkans.  He noted that in 2001, he had introduced a bill to 
make U.S. assistance to Lebanon contingent on the Lebanese 
army deploying on the border with Israel.  Such a move might 
have prevented the recent war.  He added that without a 
UNIFIL deployment to the Syrian border, Hezbollah would be 
resupplied by Syria, making a second war with Israel likely. 
 President Basescu agreed that absent an effort to disarm 
Hezbollah and to cut off resupply from Iran and Syria, 
Hezbollah would continue to grow.   He opined that Hezbollah 
was becoming an "angel" in the eyes of Arab populations, if 
not in the eyes of their leaders.  Basescu said that he 
distrusted UNSCR 1558, adding that he and his advisors did 
not want to involve Romanian troops in disarming Hezbollah 
given the vague UNSCR mandate and ROE.  Basescu also referred 
to recent television footage of a damaged UNIFIL compound 
adjacent to a site used by Hezbollah for launching rocket 
attacks, underscoring that he was loathe to allow Romanian 
peacekeepers to encounter similar risks.  He added, however, 
that he was open to reconsidering this decision if "expressly 
requested" to do so. 
 
¶3.  (C) Rep. Lantos also thanked the President for taking 
steps in changing Romania's approach to Holocaust education. 
Basescu replied that Romania continued to be very interested 
in the security of Israel, not least because a half million 
Jews of Romanian background lived there, but also because of 
growing economic ties between the two countries.  Basescu 
agreed with Lantos' observation that relations between 
Romania and Hungary had improved greatly, adding he was 
delighted that Viktor Orban had lost the 2006 parlamentary 
election, and that he had even congratulated Orban for doing 
so.  In response to a query about the popularity of Greater 
Romania Party (PRM) leader Vadim Tudor and the nationalist 
right, Basescu responded that Tudor's party consistently 
polled around 12-15 percent of the electorate.   The 
President predicted that the new party of industrialist Gigi 
Becali could divide the extreme right in the future, ensuring 
that Tudor's vote would never rise beyond the 15 percent mark. 
 
¶4.  (SBU)  Rep. Lantos also introduced two representatives of 
a business delegation accompanying Codel, Computer Based 
Solutions CEO Philip Friedman and IBM Vice President Thomas 
Conway.  He noted that they were interested in opening a 
technology support center and software development center in 
Romania.  Basescu promised to support efforts to promote U.S. 
investment, adding that he expected Romanian infrastructure 
to improve dramatically within five or six years after EU 
entry. 
 
¶5.  (C)  Rep. Lantos raised similar themes during his meeting 
 
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with Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, praising 
Romanian support of U.S. efforts, including contributions in 
Iraq and Afghanistan.  He said he hoped that Romania would 
recognize that Lebanon was not simply a U.S. responsibility, 
but one for the entire civilized world.  Lantos also 
commended Romania for strengthening Holocaust education, and 
said he hoped that  Romania's legislature would approve 
measures to allow former Nazis to be returned to Romania. 
Lantos said he was delighted to see Romania's enormous 
economic progress, adding that he was jealous of its 6 
percent GDP growth.  He noted the presence of the premier 
company from his congressional district--Oracle--in Romania 
and welcomed the growing interest of U.S. firms such as IBM 
in investing in Romania.  Finally, Lantos said that he was 
following closely the growth of right-wing movements in the 
region. 
 
¶6.  (C) Prime Minister Tariceanu responded that Romania was 
concerned  about the Lebanon situation and that it had an 
excellent relationship with Israel.  In explaining Romanian 
reluctance to provide peacekeepers in Lebanon, he opined that 
even with 15,000 or even 30,000 troops, UNIFIL was unlikely 
to succeed absent tougher rules of engagement.  Tariceanu 
also noted the importance of reaching an overall political 
solution in the Middle East, adding that this was where the 
European Union could play a more important role.  The PM 
observed that it would be impossible to get Hezbollah to 
withdraw from its positions in South Lebanon without the 
concurrence of its "protectors"--Syria and Iran.  Romania 
understood it had to share the burden in the region, he 
added, and was willing to contribute to peaceful solutions. 
 
¶7.  (C) Tariceanu evinced satisfaction with economic trends, 
noting that GDP growth may exceed 6 percent this year, with 
diminishing inflation.  He said that the new flat tax had 
resulted in a 37 percent growth in government revenues. 
Unemployment had fallen to 5.1 percent.  In closing, 
Tariceanu said that he had good news in terms of attracting 
foreign investment, noting that the way had been cleared for 
two leading U.S. car manufacturers to bid on a major 
automotive plant in Craiova.  While EU accession had been his 
main focus in recent months, the PM stressed, with EU entry 
on January 1, 2007 all but assured, he was now turning his 
attention to bilateral relations with the United States. 
 
¶8.  (C) In his session with Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan 
Ungureanu, Congressman Lantos discussed ethnic tensions and 
troubling ultra-nationalism in Romania and Lebanon.  Lantos 
expressed his concern about xenophobic figures like Tudor and 
right nationalist soccer team owner Gigi Becali.  At the same 
time, he applauded Romania for coming to grips with the past 
and moving forward on Holocaust issues.  Striking a less 
optimistic note than FM Ungureanu about generational change, 
Lantos said he was troubled by the fact that Tudor and Becali 
were making inroads among the youth; governments, he 
stressed, have a responsibility to confront history.  He 
encouraged Ugureanu to work closely with his Hungarian 
counterpart.  He also asked Romania to support international 
efforts in Lebanon. 
 
¶8.  (C) Ungureanu said generally shared Lantos view on the 
"sheer hypocrisy" of European anti-Americanism, especially on 
the question of "secret renditions."  So much of what was 
being said in Europe against the U.S. was coming from 
ideological quarters, while the Russian Federation sits back 
and gloats.  It is sometime hard to determine who is worse. 
Ungureanu said, in any case Romania and the US are fighting 
in the same trenches against a non-traditional enemy, 
requiring non-traditional weapons.  On the rise of 
ultra-nationalism, Ungureanu noted that there is no support 
in the countryside for this, but only among a segment of the 
"urban periphery."  Ungureanu noted that he initiated the 
first Joint Parliamentary Assembly between Hungary and 
Romania, and knew that while the process is routine, the 
substance and the work is concrete. 
 
¶9.  Note: Codel Lantos did not see/clear this message prior 
to departing Bucharest. 
Taubman